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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Guest commentator Matt Caine has prepared this review of a recent book by Adele Ferguson, whose journalistic investigations were instrumental in prompting the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry:

This is a brilliant read, so what is it about?

It is the story of the tail wagging a big, stupid dog.

Of barrels full to the brim with bad apples.

Greed at all costs, where cash isn’t everything, it is the only thing.

The story of sycophants just following orders.

Of total incompetence at the highest levels of Australia’s largest companies.

Of their low and inept smear campaigns.

Of a few good men heroically standing up to be counted.

Of the Government’s Finance Minister trying to cut regulation while evidence of theft, fraud and money laundering are staring him in the face.

Of how white collar criminals get off the hook.

Of a failed advertising man becoming Treasurer and a Prime Minister who sells his soul to the devil, both telling us that problems are being addressed, and made to look the buffoons they really are.

How Australia’s major parties are easily bought.

Of Government that forgets who it represents.

A merry-go-round of people working in politics, the financial sector and the regulator.

How a regulator choked of funds becomes ineffectual, and gets cosy with those it is supposedly regulating.

Of people whose life savings are stolen from them by narcissists who still have their jobs or have escaped scot free, with monies obtained by fraud.

Of how media suck up to advertising clients.

A Royal Commission with terms of reference written by those sympathetic or beholden to those being investigated.

And why the Government picks a member of the Melbourne Establishment to head it.

Whether anything will change.

A fascinating horror of a true crime that continues today.

Who should read this?

Everyone who has ever held a bank account.

Anyone who holds a loan, insurance, investments or superannuation.

Everyone who holds shares on the ASX.

Anyone who votes.

Those who care about their fellow Australians.

You owe it to yourself to become informed: it could save your financial future and your life.

Most of all, it is a riveting story, brilliantly told by the journalist instrumental in blowing the whistle on some of the worst criminals of our time.

Adele Ferguson AM, I salute you – a thoroughly deserved AM award – and a true champion for all Australians.

 

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Well, probably more views, but time has flown in a decade of strutting and fretting on the meejah stage, to mangle Macbeth. The 10th anniversary date of the online launch of this august journal was actually on 18 June, so we’re a little late with the self-congratulations. 

Apparently a 10th anniversary is celebrated with tin or aluminium, which is easily acquired at the local bottle shop in handy six packs or slabs of a favourite drop. Don’t you love all those short-hand ways of not referring to liquor? But I digress.

Now listen up folks, this time it’s mainly about you lot, our loyal readers. I dunno all your names but I do know what youse like by perusing our reader viewing stats. No need to guess what your favourite subject is: sex.

Since 2014 our top story Very Wicked Camper has been viewed by an astonishing 54,547 readers, due to a US aggregating website sending it globally viral, as they say, or is that virally global? All because of the naughty dick murals on said vehicle. The power of this internetty thing is a big worry, as they were pretty infantile images with few accompanying words. 

Second biggest story was Sex, Sand & Sculpture, which was really about art, society and censorship, but salacious it definitely was not. Still, it had 4,533 readers, so I hope they also pondered after checking out the evidence of offence to public morality. 

Third comes Magic Pudding, which had no sex – reassuringly – but maybe promised fantasy and a cooking story for kids? But then in fourth place was Eruv Erection Troubles and in fifth position Shark Season. So I conclude that you’re mainly into sex, fantasy and horror. But you suck up the other worthy high brow stuff (another 185 posts!) in between the tabloidy items.

You mob are truly awesome: both intellectual and low brow in one handy package! And very patient. What’s not to love about you. You’ve stayed the course, through good times and mediocre. Hopefully you’ve had some laughs, as we shared a few yarns, prejudices and occasional insight.

Ten years of sharing, togetherness and happiness – how good is that, as ScoMo would say, and gods bless you too. So keep the KC faith, dear readers, and we’ll sail (powered by wind) into that uncertain future together. 

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What a helluva (hmm!) fuss Rugby player Israel (perfect first name) Folau stirred up with his damnation by Instagram of sinners to hell! It’s amazing how punters take this medieval idea seriously. Okay, I get that some gay people (no initials here) are unhappy about it, but only if they accept this ridiculous clap-trap.

But what about the other sinners mentioned? This caper needs auditing, at least apropos of Orstralia. At the top of his list were Drunks. Is that permanently inebriated folk, or those of us who have occasionally over-tippled? If the former then most people are unaffected, but otherwise it covers 90+% of Australians.

Homosexuals were apparently the most offended by the damnation call-out. But they’ve had plenty of coverage, so let’s look at the other categories.

Thirdly, Adulterers, which means sex outside marriage. Don’t worry, the rest of you come up later. Surveys show that 10% of spouses admit to cheating, which based on latest population estimates amounts to 915,000 people (cheating rate for men is 12% and women 7%). That’s a shite load of adulterers.

Liars is massive. Is that professional liars like politicians, or even us occasional liars (white lies only of course)? Potentially that covers 100% of Australians! And hey, what about Israel himself – he promised not to bring the game of rugby into disrepute, and then he takes Rugby Australia to court. That was a lie.

Okay, here’s a biggie: Fornicators.  Don’t reach for the dictionary – it means sex outside marriage. So the rest of you having sex are fornicators. I’m pretty sure the bible did not recognise defacto marriage, so you lot are included too. I dunno how to estimate the total number of fornicators in Oz but it’s way huge.

Full time Thieves is probably not a huge number, but if you nicked some flowers from a neighbouring park you could be a borderline sinner. Let’s just say several hundred thousand thieves in Australia to cover all options.

Then my personal favourite: Atheists. By definition we should be the least concerned with Folau’s folly of phantasmagorical punishment. And we make up 10% of the Australian population, that is 2,473,000 clear thinkers. So Israel: sticks and stones….

Last but definitely not least come Idolaters, which is where it gets interesting. Despite my atheist theology, I’ve done plenty of church tourism, particularly in Europe where they built some great temples to idolatry. Yep, lots of Virgin Mary statues, Jesus statues, not to mention assorted saints, religious relics, etc. Catholics are idolaters – they constitute 22.6% of the Australian population, and if we add say half of the 13.3% Anglicans, it makes a grand total of 7,246,000 Australian idolators, ignoring Buddhists or other minority groups.

When you crunch all those sinner group numbers, you have roughly 90-100% of the Australian population going off to Hell sooner or later. I hope the Devil has enough accommodation for his Australian congregation, so to speak, preferably with river views (no oceans in hell?) and Tuesday night pasta specials at the local club. To give us all a warm welcome! 

And come to think of it, is that why we’re Down Under? Thanks Israel for bringing it to our attention. The Devil’s in the detail.

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Only eight days after the (terrorist) mass murders in Christchurch, punters voting for the glorious state parliament of New South Wales have elected three Shooters, Fishers & Farmers Party members in the lower house. 

The three seats comprise the western half of the state, which roughly equals the size of Germany (albeit with a somewhat smaller population), and are their first in the Legislative Assembly. 

How can country punters have the murderous event still fresh in their minds and vote for a political party referred to as Shooters, its original name? If they are the answer we are asking the wrong question.

Yeah, the discredited Nationals (ex-Country Party), are on the nose in the bush, but come on folks, what about the vibe? How can the Electoral Commission even allow a political party name to be registered these days as Shooters – a world first.

The three seats of Barwon, Murray and Orange encompass the disappearing Murray-Darling river system, which is literally that country’s lifeblood – the scene of massive fish die-offs and corrupt water mismanagement overseen by the Coalition’s junior partner. 

The Greens clamoured for decades to protect those vital rivers, and scored dismally in the same electorates. Country voters know that Greens are watermelons (green on the outside, red inside), evil socialists, the devil incarnate, etc., and so they viscerally reject a party defending their own environmental interests.

The new parliament will have three Shooters members and three Greens members.

Say no more.

Meantime the NZ government is now scrambling to finally fix up its slack gun laws. Not surprising that a NSW-grown terrorist murderer moved to New Zealand a couple of years ago: after wandering the globe building up his so-called manifesto, he then easily put together an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons.

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Recently in Hawaii your eagle-eyed correspondent discovered on a wall in a humble abode this ironic (iconic?) reference to a famous all-male supper, which may have taken place on 01 April many years ago. That’s what we call juxtaposition!

Hawaiian last supper

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Peter Carey conjures up a racy ethos and mood in early 1950s suburban Melbourne in his recent novel ‘A Long Way From Home’, featuring his birth-place Bacchus Marsh, and a car rally that captivated the nation. 

Reminiscent of ‘Oscar and Lucinda’, Carey charges full speed into this story, with characters, ideas and narratives bouncing off each other, until it settles down to a manageable rhythm. Probably an apt metaphor as the real hero of the story is the amazing Redex Round Australia Reliability Trial of 1954 (second of three). 

Among the larger-than-life central characters he even manages to invent a blond, German background, part aboriginal man, and reflects on our inglorious 20th century indigenous history.

Regular KC readers might recall my father John (Jack) in Berlin 36 Redux. Well, he’s also in the background of this story, as he competed in this 15,400 kms trial, driving a Chevrolet (car 36) for Christey’s Motor Auctions. Only 120 out of 263 entrants managed to finish the punishing event, with points lost for late arrivals and replaced parts. Dad’s car finished 97th.

His mate, legendary Jack ‘Gelignite’ Murray won in a Ford V8, incredibly with no points lost, and Carey draws on his character. My childhood memories include calling in to Murray’s Bondi garage with my father for a chin wag with Jack later on.

If you want to know more about him, get ‘Gelignite Jack Murray, An Aussie Larrikin Legend’ by his son Phil Murray – it’s not literature, but lots of photos and cars, and O’Hara too.

The Christey’s crew learned a few tricks, as in 1955 they entered the Trial again, with a longer 16,900 kms route round the country: their Ford Customline (car 76) came a very creditable 20th out of 54 finishers and 276 starters! 

I reckon Carey captures the hardships of the Trial and devil-may-care attitude of the self-reliant bunch of individuals who threw themselves into this ‘adventure of a lifetime’ – overall, a rollicking good read, as the cliche goes. Highly recommended.

1954 redex 1

1954 redex 2

1954 redex 3

 

 

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A best seller by Israeli historian Yuval Harari, which has sold 10 million copies, been translated into 50 languages, it’s unequivocally a must-read. Written in plain, unadorned English (translated from Hebrew, so presumably like the original edition), it traces human evolution from the earliest skirmishes with our Neanderthal cousins down through the ages, to finish with the meaning of life!

If you join the fan club you won’t be disappointed, as he simply explains, or explains simply, the overall arrangements in our shared world – particularly through the powerful interaction of evolutionary biology and the multitude of cultures and associated artefacts that we sapiens have created. 

We developed speech to start gossiping, says Yuval, more or less, and it’s what we fundamentally like doing best and most. As an unalloyed atheist, I particularly liked his confirmation of my long-held explanation of religious belief as a manifestation of our innate ability for myth creation and story-telling over the millennia. 

You’ll have to read it to discover the meaning of life, as I ain’t telling you here. 

IMG_4111

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